Skincare tips to avoid the telltale signs of the silly season

Ah, summer! It may be the season to let your hair down and indulge in those guilty pleasures, but all the festivities can wreak havoc on your skin. Knowing how to minimise the damage may help you keep those New Year’s resolutions… at least until Easter.

Diet

If you have a splurge over Christmas, it may show up not just on the scales but also on your skin.

Your skin is a living, breathing organ of the body and it needs to be properly nourished and hydrated to look and feel its best. When your skin is deprived of necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients it is unable to function at optimal levels and the structure slowly begins to break down. In order to avoid this breakdown and keep its healthy glow, you need to feed your skin a mix of important nutrients each day.

Healthy skin starts from the inside and works its way out. The first step: eliminate refined sugar and fatty junk foods. Load up on fruit and vegetables which are packed with the best-known antioxidants – Vitamins C, E and beta-carotene (converted to Vitamin A once in the body). Your skin also needs a good supply of protein, iron, zinc, copper and folic acid. Essential beauty boosters in your daily diet should include at least two serves of fruit, five serves of vegetables, healthy carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread or rice as well as fish, lean meat, chicken and eggs.

Good skin also needs a little fat, such as essential fatty acids and omega fats, to improve its appearance. The best sources are liquid oils (rice bran, olive, grapeseed, hazelnut and soybean oils), almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, avocado and seeds such as sunflower, sesame, poppy and linseeds. They make great summer snacks or the perfect dressing over light salads.

Dehydration also causes skin ageing, so drink plenty of water every day. This will not only hydrate the skin but will help to remove waste from the kidneys and detoxify the liver.

Drinking

Excessive alcohol is another notorious beauty thief. As soon as you have your first sip of wine, your skin begins to dehydrate. As well as making you dry and puffy, alcohol is a stimulant that causes increased skin flushing and blotchy cheeks and noses.

Drinking consistently may cause dilated capillaries which can lead to sagging skin and visible thread veins. Your complexion may start to look sallow and experience breakouts as alcohol affects the circulation and depletes nutrients in your system.

It may seem unrealistic to cut out alcohol completely, so cut back. Make your wine a spritzer, choose a diet mixer rather than the full-sugar version and light beer instead of full strength. Drink alcohol with a meal, not by itself and avoid binge drinking.

To minimise damage, drink water before, during and after your alcoholic drink. Staying hydrated should help with the problem of dull, dry skin the following day. Always remove your makeup and apply a rich moisturiser before you go to bed. Keep some makeup removal wipes and a night cream on your bedside table, in case a trip to the bathroom is just too much to handle.

The next morning, start your day with a cool shower and finish up with a blast of icy water on your face. This should get your circulation flowing and help reduce any puffiness around the eyes.

Smoking

Over time, smokers develop dull, discoloured skin with deep wrinkles around the mouth and eyes. Free radicals form in your body by the exposure to tobacco smoke and cause a breakdown of skin-supporting collagen and elastin. Nicotine restricts the blood flow to the skin, depriving it of vital oxygen and nutrients. Smoking also reduces the body’s store of Vitamin A which provides protection from skin damage.

Smokers are also likely to develop lines around the mouth because of the overuse of the muscles to hold the cigarette. The lines around the eyes that smokers are prone to are caused by squinting the eyes to avoid the smoke.

There’s really one thing to do. Quit! Once you give up, skin improvement will soon be evident. After just two weeks, circulation will increase and will continue to improve. Your skin will look more radiant and glowing, and you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t do it earlier.

Sunbaking

Although most people love to revel in the sun, this is truly the skin’s nemesis. Excessive sun exposure is responsible for most of the skin damage associated with ageing. This damage accumulates slowly over time and starts at an early age.

The damaging UV rays of the sun can cause a variety of damage to the skin, most notably skin cancer. They break down collagen, which gives skin its elasticity and can lead to premature wrinkles, especially around the forehead, eyes and mouth. Sun damage can also cause discolouration of the skin.

We’re all taking sun protection a little more seriously these days, and rightly so. I recently realised the ‘stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm’ rule doesn’t cut it anymore after getting burned at 7.30am!

It’s now advised not just to slip, slop, slap but also to seek shade and wear sunglasses. Always take the necessary precautions and hydrate and protect your skin before spending time in the sun. Or, even better, stay in the shade as much as you can.

It may not feel like summer if your skin hasn’t turned a nice shade of golden brown, but why not go for the safer option? With all the tanning products available, you can get a natural glow without putting yourself at risk.

Late nights

Insufficient sleep does more than just make you cranky. Nighttime is the best time to deliver nutrition to the skin. While your body is not tending to other activities, it is able to focus on the absorption and redistribution of fluids it ignored while you were busy during the day.

Sleep deprivation can make you look older than your age. Your muscles become fatigued, causing your face to droop. Your face may look sallow because, as your body suffers exhaustion, your blood pressure drops so less oxygen is available to skin cells.

Try and sleep at least seven and a half hours each day. Get yourself a good night cream that can benefit your skin while you are sleeping. Your skin will reflect a well-rested body with vitality and a healthy glow.